Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Afghan counterpart Zarar Ahmad Osmani
(3rd from right) co-chair the fourth Foreign Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul
Process on Afghanistan in Beijing on October 31, 2014. Photo by Yin Gang
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (2nd from right) and his Afghan counterpart Zarar
Ahmad Osmani co-chair the 4th Foreign Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process
on Afghanistan in Beijing on October 31, 2014. Photo by Yin Gang
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (right) and his Afghan counterpart Zarar Ahmad
Osmani attend a press conference after the fourth Foreign Ministerial Conference of the
Istanbul Process on Afghanistan in Beijing on Octobr 31, 2014. Photo by Yin Gang
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang addresses the opening ceremony of the fourth ministerial
conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan in Beijing on Friday of October 31,
2014. Li Keqiang and visiting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai attended the
opening ceremony of the fourth ministerial conference of the Istanbul Process
on Afghanistan Friday in Beijing. Photos by Wang Ye
China pledges financial,
By Hao Yalin
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang addresses the opening ceremony of the fourth ministerial
conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan in Beijing on October 31, 2014.
Photo by Wang Ye
China pledged to provide non-reimbursable assistance of 500 million yuan (about 81.43 million U.S. dollars) to Afghanistan this year at an international meeting on Afghanistan held in Beijing on Friday of October 31.
China will provide non-reimbursable assistance of 1.5 billion yuan (about 244 million U.S. dollars) over the upcoming three years to Afghanistan, to help the country train 3,000 people of all circles in the upcoming five years and provide 500 scholarships, said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang while addressing the opening ceremony of the fourth ministerial conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan.
“Firm support for Afghanistan’s peaceful reconstruction should be concrete action instead of verbal commitment,” the premier said.
He pledged to strengthen bilateral cooperation in areas such as infrastructure construction, agriculture, water conservation and mineral resources exploitation.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pledged that the Chinese side will implement assistance and training plans, and try to open training courses on anti-terrorism, drug control and disaster management.
China will have a broader and deepened participation in cooperation under the framework of the Istanbul Process, and promote Afghanistan-related regional cooperation, Wang said.
Started in 2011, the Istanbul Process is the only Afghanistan-related cooperation mechanism led by regional countries.
To promote result-oriented cooperation through practical means, the Istanbul Process has identified a number of confidence building measures (CBM) in areas including anti-terrorism, drug control, disaster management, trade and investment opportunity, regional infrastructure construction and education to be jointly implemented by interested participating and supporting countries and organizations.
According to Wang, 15 cooperation programs in those areas have been conducted over past year, which have seen good results.
Sixty-four more priority programs were identified in Friday’s ministerial conference, which will help Afghanistan develop its national governance, self-development, public security and defense, Wang said.
He called on all parties involved to implement these programs, provide financial or technological assistance and strengthen cooperation.
Wang also stressed that realizing political reconciliation as soon as possible and strengthening Afghanistan’s capability building were of vital importance to its transition process.
He hoped all political parties in Afghanistan work toward the realization of inclusive political reconciliation through dialogue and negotiation. He called on the Istanbul Process to play an important and constructive role in helping Afghanistan .
Premier Li also presented a five-point proposal for the solution of Afghan issue, including insisting self-governance of the Afghan people, promoting political reconciliation among different Afghan political parties, speeding up economic reconstruction, exploring a development path for the country, and strengthening external support.
The international community should respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, not interfere with its internal affairs and support Afghanistan’s efforts to realize security and stability, Li said.
He called on the country’s political parties to lay aside former enmity and join the reconciliation process. The international community should support the Afghan-led Afghan-owned peace process and create a suitable environment for the peaceful reconciliation, he said.
He urged the international community to fulfill assistance commitments and help Afghanistan achieve sustained economic development.
He said the international community should respect the choice of the Afghan people regarding the country’s development path and social system.
The international community should also support Afghanistan in developing relations with other countries and to participate in global and regional cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, equality and reciprocity, and help it build up security security capability, Li added.
He also voiced support for the UN to play a leading role in coordinating the global efforts to assist Afghanistan.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, who is paying his first China visit since taking office in September, agreed with Li’s proposals while addressing the opening ceremony.
He said the Istanbul Process would lay the foundations for an early solution to the Afghan issue as well as the region’s peace and stability. He also hailed the important contribution China made to expedite the process.
Friday’s conference is the first time China has hosted an Afghanistan-related international meeting. This was also the first meeting since the new Afghan government assumed office.
Beijing Declaration was released after the meeting.
The declaration said the fourth ministerial conference is a crucial opportunity for enhancing cooperation through achieving consensus among the “Heart of Asia” countries and the wider international community on achieving lasting peace, sustainable security and economic development in Afghanistan and in the “Heart of Asia” region.
“We believe that the new government will make every effort to continue to successfully lead the “Heart of Asia”- Istanbul Process and realize its objectives in building confidence and enhancing cooperation for a secure and stable Afghanistan and the region,” the declaration said.
“We commit to maintain the input into the capacity building and support of the Afghan National Security Forces, according to the declaration, ” it said.
In the declaration,the ministers called on the Taliban to renounce violence, cut ties with all terrorist groups and institutes supporting these groups, and respect the Afghan Constitution, and called on all parties to encourage the Taliban towards reconciliation.
“We support the initiation of the reconciliation process as soon as possible. We welcome the contribution by the ‘Heart of Asia’ countries to this process, ” it said.
The declaration reiterated that terrorism and extremism pose a serious threat to the security and stability of Afghanistan, affirming the determination to enhance regional cooperation to dismantle their sanctuaries and training bases, cut off their sources of funding, combat arms, lethal goods smuggling, and strengthen border control in the region and beyond. “We strongly condemn all forms and manifestation of terrorism, particularly those targeting innocent civilians,” it said.
The declaration called on the international community to provide further support and assistance to Afghan refugees to enable their voluntary repatriation and resettlement in Afghanistan in a safe, timely and dignified manner.
“We commit to pursue opportunities to enhance regional economic cooperation and call upon the rest of the international community to fulfill their commitments to the long-term development of Afghanistan,” it said.
The declaration expressed hope that the United Nations support the Afghanistan during the transition period. “We also emphasize stronger coordination and collaboration with the ‘Heat of Asia’-Istanbul Process by the supporting regional and international organizations.”
According to the declaration, Pakistan will host the fifth ministerial meeting of the Istanbul Process in 2015.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and guests pose for group photos ahead of the opening
ceremony of the fourth ministerial conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan
in Beijing on October 31, 2014. Photo by Wang Ye
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (3rd from left
of front row) and other guests pose for group photos ahead of the opening ceremony of
the fourth ministerial conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan in Beijing
on October 31, 2014. Photo by Wang Ye
Speech by Premier Li Keqiang
at Fourth Ministerial Conference of
Istanbul Process on Afghanistan
By Hao Yalin
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivered a speech at the opening ceremony of the Fourth Ministerial Conference of Istanbul Process on Afghanistan held in Beijing on Friday morning.
Following is the full text of his speech, titled “Let Us Join Hands to Promote Security and Prosperity of Afghanistan and the Region”.
Your Excellency President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai,
Distinguished Foreign Ministers and Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,x Friends,
It gives me great pleasure to attend the opening ceremony of the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan together with President Ashraf Ghani. Let me extend, on behalf of the Chinese government and people and in my own name, welcome to President Ashraf Ghani, distinguished foreign ministers, guests and friends and warm congratulations on the opening of the conference.
Since its inception in 2011, the Istanbul Process has become a unique regional cooperation mechanism on Afghanistan and offered an important platform for countries in the region and the wider international community to enhance communication, understanding, coordination and cooperation on Afghanistan. Continued progress of the Istanbul Process will help bring about an early solution to the Afghan issue and the ultimate attainment of durable peace, stability, and economic and social development in the region.
The fourth Ministerial Conference is the first important international conference on Afghanistan since the elections in Afghanistan. We hope that this conference will send a clear signal of strong support of countries in the region and the international community to a smooth transition, security and development in Afghanistan, reiterate their long-standing commitment to peace and reconstruction there, and demonstrate their full confidence in the future of the country.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Afghanistan holds an important geographical position as it connects South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia, bordering China to the east. A shining pearl on the ancient Silk Road, Afghanistan was once where civilizations met and numerous kingdoms left their marks in history. More than 2,100 years ago, Zhang Qian, an envoy of China’s Western Han Dynasty, recorded an Afghanistan bustling with travelling merchants and trade caravans. The Gandharan art, once flourishing in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is known across the world and had great influence on the murals and sculptures in ancient China.
The Afghan issue has been a regional and international hotspot issue since the end of the 1970s. The international community deeply sympathizes with the Afghan people who have suffered from turmoil and war over the past 30 years and more. Afghanistan is now at a crucial stage of political, security and economic transition. The Afghan people now face new opportunities to realize unity, stability, peace, reconstruction and development. Meanwhile, the task remains formidable and daunting.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A united, stable, growing and friendly Afghanistan is what the Afghan people hope for and it represents the common interests of countries in the region and the international community. It is important that we vigorously support Afghanistan’s peace process and its reconstruction, and work for an early solution of the Afghan issue, as this is the unshirkable and common responsibility of countries in the region and the international community at large. Here, I wish to raise five points regarding the settlement of the Afghan issue.
First, Afghanistan must be governed by the Afghan people. This means that the Afghan people should be allowed to take their destiny into their own hands and truly become the masters of their country. In the end of the day, Afghan affairs should be managed by the Afghan people. We believe that the Afghan people have the ability and wisdom to run their own affairs well and ultimately achieve peace and stability in the country. The international community should truly respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, refrain from interfering in its internal affairs, and firmly support Afghanistan in its efforts to achieve security and stability at home.
Second, promote political reconciliation. As a Chinese saying goes, “Harmony at home brings prosperity.” The Afghan people long for peace and stability. A torn Afghanistan fraught with internal strife will not be able to come out of the war or poverty. To achieve durable peace and prosperity in Afghanistan, it is imperative to promote a broadly-based, inclusive political reconciliation. We call on all political parties in Afghanistan to leave behind past grievances, join the political reconciliation process, and discuss ways to achieve peace and development of their country. The international community should support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process, and create an enabling external environment for peace and reconciliation to happen in Afghanistan.
Third, speed up economic reconstruction. Stability underpins development, while development guarantees stability. Poverty and backwardness breed extremism. Only when economically developed, will Afghanistan ensure its people a prosperous and happy life. Only commitment to growing the economy can lead to improved lives of the people. There is an adage in China, “Give people fish and you feed them for a day. Teach them how to fish and you feed them for a lifetime.” The international community should fulfill its assistance commitment and help Afghanistan enhance its self-development capacity and realize sustained economic development.
Fourth, explore the path of development. Afghanistan faces daunting tasks of rebuilding itself from the ravages of prolonged war and turbulence. It now stands at a crucial stage of national development. The unique history, culture and the national realities of Afghanistan have determined that there is no ready development model for it to copy. The future path of Afghanistan must be identified by the Afghan people in light of national realities. The international community should respect the right of Afghan people to independently choose social system and development path, so that they can develop a way of governance that suits their national conditions and achieve enduring political stability and sustained economic development.
Fifth, provide stronger external support. Without support and assistance from the international community, especially from regional countries, Afghanistan will not be able to achieve genuine peace and stability. The international community should give firm support to Afghanistan in developing external relations on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit and, in particular, in strengthening good-neighborly relations with other countries in the region. It should support Afghanistan in taking an active part in regional and international cooperation to integrate more deeply into regional economic cooperation. It should help Afghanistan with security capacity-building and support the United Nations in playing a leading role in coordinating international assistance so that assistance efforts from various parties may complement and reinforce each other and form synergy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
China and Afghanistan have been neighbors from generation to generation. “Neighbors wish each other well, just as family members do.” Peace and stability in Afghanistan have a direct bearing on China’s security and stability. The Chinese government has firmly supported and actively participated in the Afghan peace and reconstruction process. Since 2001, China has exempted Afghanistan’s matured debts, provided 1.52 billion RMB yuan of grant assistance, and built a number of major projects to the benefit of the Afghan people’s livelihood. That included the Kabul Republic Hospital, Parwan Hydraulic Project Rehabilitation Work, the National Education Center of Science and Technology, and the complex of the Chinese Language Department of Kabul University. China has also trained more than 1,000 Afghan professionals in various fields. China will continue to provide necessary assistance and support to Afghanistan, do what it can as a neighbor and fulfill due responsibilities of a big developing country.
• China firmly pursues a policy of friendship with Afghanistan, and remains committed to deepening mutually-beneficial cooperation with Afghanistan in various fields and promoting steady progress of the Strategic and Cooperative Partnership between the two countries.
• China firmly supports Afghanistan in advancing the peace and reconciliation process, and will continue to play a constructive role in this process.
• China firmly supports peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan, and will help Afghanistan, not in words but with concrete actions, to enhance capacity-building for independent development. China is ready to step up cooperation with Afghanistan in such areas as infrastructure, agriculture, water conservancy and the exploration and utilization of mineral resources. China has decided to offer Afghanistan grant assistance of 500 million RMB yuan this year, and 1.5 billion RMB yuan in the coming three years. China will also train 3,000 Afghan professionals in various fields and offer 500 scholarships in the next five years. China will continue to expand security training and assistance to Afghanistan.
• China firmly supports Afghanistan in joining regional cooperation to the benefit of increased trade, closer economic cooperation and greater connectivity in the region. China wishes to see Afghanistan fully leverage its geographical and resource advantages, and actively participate in China’s Silk Road economic belt initiative. China’s competent departments will send working groups to have thorough consultation with Afghanistan on specific cooperation programs. China takes and will continue to take an active part in the cooperation on Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) within the framework of the Istanbul Process, and plans to hold training sessions on counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics and disaster management for Afghanistan this year.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Afghan issue is vital to the wellbeing of the Afghan people. It also concerns the people in the region and beyond. To the Afghan people who have suffered enormously from war and turbulence and who look forward with great expectation to the future, nothing is more important and valuable than understanding, support and help from their neighbors and friends. Today, the foreign ministers and senior representatives from 46 countries and international organizations, including members, support countries and guests of the host country of the Istanbul Process, are gathered in Beijing to discuss important measures to achieve peace, development and security in Afghanistan and in the region as a whole. This in itself sends a positive signal to the whole world: we have a common goal, which is to achieve peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan at an early date; and we have a common vision, which is to help Afghanistan, a shining pearl once, to regain its splendor at an early date.
As an Afghan proverb goes, as long as there is determination to climb to the mountain top, one is always able to find a path. We in China also have a saying, that is, a thousand-mile journey begins with the first step. This Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan marks a good beginning for Afghanistan-related regional and international cooperation in the new era. And I believe it will yield positive results with our in-depth discussions and consultations. Let us work together and make continued and unremitting efforts for sustained development, security and prosperity in Afghanistan and in the region as a whole.
I wish the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan a complete success.
>> Turkey committed to Istanbul Process to help Afghanistan
Turkey vowed to continue supporting Afghanistan at an international meeting on Afghanistan held in Beijing on Friday of October 31, reflecting Ankara’s long-held policy of shoring up stability in the heart of Asia.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has attended to the fourth ministerial conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan, which was convened in China’s capital.
“Turkey will continue to support Afghanistan in every platform, ” Cavusoglu said in his address to the high-level participants at the conference.
Recalling that Istanbul Process on Afghanistan started with the initiatives of Turkey in 2011, the Turkish foreign minister said his country wishes to sustain positive atmosphere in Afghanistan and help contribute to the steps jointly taken by the international community in the fields of security, economy, politics and confidence-building measures.
“The stability and security in Afghanistan is vital to Turkey, just as the case for many others in the region,” Abdullah Bozkurt, Turkish columnist at Today’s Zaman daily in Ankara said.
“In addition to historical ties Turkey has with Afghanistan, the trade and business opportunities in Afghanistan are also important for Turkey to link up with central and south Asia,” he told Xinhua.
Turkey maintains hundreds of troops in Afghanistan but never assumed any role in combat missions but rather involved in providing security, reconstruction and training.
It also helps develop the Afghan police force and has trained thousands Afghani officers so far.
Ankara also helped reconstruct Wardak and Jowzjan provinces in the country, provided funds for Afghan government and built schools, hospitals and roads.
The Istanbul Process identified a number of confidence building measures (CBM) in areas including anti-terrorism, drug control, disaster management, trade and investment opportunity, regional infrastructure construction and education to be jointly implemented by interested participating and supporting countries and organizations.
Turkey has already committed in helping Afghanistan on several of these CBMs.
“The investment in Afghan educational system by Turkish government and non-governmental organizations in terms of strengthening CBMs identified in Istanbul process has delivered very promising results,” Mesut Cevikalp, Ankara-based analyst, told Xinhua.
Kabul’s international Afghan-Turkish schools won 204 medals (57 gold, 73 silver and 74 bronze) in science competitions across the world in 2014.
“Education is the ultimate panacea to battle with extremism and terror that wreaked a havoc in Afghanistan for decades,” Cevikalp underlined.
So far, Turkish-Afghani schools have collected 563 medals in Science Olympiads.
Turkey also mediates between Afghanistan and its neighbor Pakistan through the trilateral Ankara Process, which sponsors meetings of senior Afghan and Pakistani ministerial and intelligence counterparts as well as Tripartite Summit meetings with head of state level representatives from Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2007.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkish troops will continue to stay in Afghanistan for two more years.
“France withdrew (its troops from Afghanistan) but we are still there,” he said in Paris during a visit to France.
France ended combat operations in November 2012 and pulled out its troops from NATO mission in Afghanistan that will expire by the end of this year.
The Turkish president paid a one-day visit to Afghanistan in mid-October and met newly elected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
During The Turkish president’s visit, both countries have signed a strategic cooperation agreement in the fields of security, reconstruction, trade, and investment.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (right) and his Afghan counterpart Zarar Ahmad
Osmani attend a press conference after the fourth Foreign Ministerial Conference of
the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan in Beijing on October 31, 2014. Photo by Yin Gang
Chinese state councilor meets Iranian foreign minister
By Liu Dongkai
Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday.
Zarif is in Beijing to attended the fourth ministerial conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan held on Friday.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Iranian President Hassan Rowhani have met several times over the past year. The two countries have maintained close contact between high-level officials and steady growth of practical cooperation, Yang said.
He said China was ready to work with Iran to advance bilateral relations.
Yang said that all relevant parties should seize the current momentum and work toward a comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue at the earliest possible date.
Zarif said Iran placed great importance on developing relations and expects to further deepen friendly cooperation with China.
He expressed appreciation for the unique and important role China played in the Iranian nuclear issue.
Afghan president’s China tour
augurs well for peace, prosperity in region
Chinese President Xi Jinping was the first foreign leader to embrace Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai’s visit, a clear indication of the importance that Beijing has attached to its relations with its neighbor.
While China is currently the world’s second largest economy and an emerging global power, its neighbor Afghanistan remains plagued by the Taliban-induced violence and terrorism causing the country’ s economy and stability to suffer.
The visit, therefore, of Ghani to Beijing was propitious and largely beneficial to Kabul not only in terms of enhanced bilateral trade relations but also in promoting peace and stability in the region.
The highlight of Ghani’s four-day state visit to Beijing was his meeting President Xi and the signing of a cooperation agreement between the two countries.
Ghani also met with Premier Li Keqiang and other top Chinese officials. The Afghan leader was accompanied by top officials of the newly-installed unity government in Kabul and several Afghan businessmen.
As part of his China visit, the Afghan president attended on Friday the fourth ministerial conference of the Istanbul Process. This year, the edition of the conference was hosted by China.
Aimed at boosting regional cooperation and strengthening security and development in Afghanistan and its neighbors, the Istanbul Process, also known as Heart of Asia process, was launched in Istanbul, Turkey in November 2011.
The Istanbul Process has been trying to resolve the blame game between Kabul and Islamabad on the issue of the Taliban and other insurgent groups operating in the mountains that separate Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Kabul has oftentimes claimed that the Taliban have used their sanctuaries in Pakistan in launching attacks in Afghanistan, indicating that the Islamabad government has prior knowledge of the attacks, a charge that has been repeatedly denied by Pakistani authorities.
Since China is both friendly to Kabul and Islamabad, analysts say Beijing can be relied upon to use its influence and vast resources to resolve the long-standing feud.
One of the more tangible results of Ghani’s visit to Beijing was China’s grant of 500 million yuan (81.8 million U.S. dollars) to Afghanistan for 2014 and a further 1.5 billion yuan for the next three years from 2015 to 2017.
Availing of the opportunity in the post-Taliban Afghanistan, China has invested in the mega economic project of Aynak Cooper Mine and Oil and Gas Field that has benefited both countries.
China, as a big power, can help Afghanistan achieve lasting peace and economic stability, said Samimullah Samim, an Afghan legislator.
The Afghan media have attached great importance to Sino-Afghan relations as shown by their extensive coverage of Ghani’s visit to China and his meetings with Chinese leaders.
Needless to say, China, as super economic power and good friend of Afghanistan and Pakistan, can use its political clout and economic influence in curbing militancy and stabilizing Afghanistan.
The centuries-old strong ties between Afghanistan and China have endured through the years because of their shared goals in prompting peace and prosperity in the region.
>> Ghani: China to help Afghanistan
in conducting national infrastructural plan
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai said Saturday that China will help Afghan government in launching a national plan focusing on strengthening Afghanistan’s infrastructure arrangement. “Following the recent commitment and promises by China, a high ranking Chinese delegation will visit Afghanistan in the near future. The delegation will work with a delegation from the Afghanistan side to give a practical shape to those promises,” Ghani told reporters one day after returning from a four-day state visit to China.
China will help Afghanistan to frame a National Infrastructural Plan in the coming six months, Ghani said. “The meaning of the National Infrastructural Plan is how we will decide about building roads, railways, hydro power dams, houses and settlement and that how we will learn from successful experience of China and the East Asia,”Ghani said.
To a query regarding China’s assistance to Afghan security forces, the Afghan leader noted that the two sides had reached an agreement in principle, adding that China will help Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in training and equipping the ANSF in countering roadside bombs and landmines besides helping them on air transporting
China will donate 500 million yuan (about 81.4 million U.S. dollar) by the end of 2014 and will provide with 1.5 billion yuan (about 244 million U.S. dollars) in the upcoming three years to Afghanistan, the Afghan president said.
NEW POST | updated on November 2, 2014
Pashto-speaking Chinese welcome
Afghan President’s invitation
By Chen Hanqi
Chinese media practitioners, teachers and students, who have learned or are studying Pashto, Afghanistan ‘s main language, welcomed the invitation extended by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai to Pashto-speaking Chinese to spend a part of their careers in the country.
During a recent interview with Xinhua, President Ghani expressed the hope that young Chinese learning Pashto and Dari will spend part of their career in Afghanistan and Afghans learning Chinese will become bridges with China and have part of their careers in China.
“We will be delighted that Chinese youth are learning Pashto and Dari,” he said, adding that he himself has spent part of his career in China, referring to his experience of serving as a World Bank official to visit China several times.
President Ghani has just concluded a successful four-day state visit to China, the first country he visited since he took office in September.
Director Xi Meng of the Pashto Section of China Radio International told Xinhua that he was glad that President Ghani has extended the invitation.
“This will give me the chance to improve on my Pashto and my ability to understand Afghanistan and its people. Pashto has been playing a key role in my daily work ever since I graduated from the university around 10 years ago,” Xi said.
Although China and Afghanistan are neighboring countries, majority of the Chinese people only know Afghanistan as a country plagued by the Taliban-induced violence and terrorism, with a slim understanding of the rich Afghan culture and language.
“But despite conflicts and violence, there is now more hope for peace and stability in this war-torn country. I am happy that Chinese and Afghan colleges have set up educational programs on each other’s language,” Xi said.
Xi said that in subways in Beijing he often heard Afghan students speaking Pashto, adding that it is a pity that Chinese students are unable to travel to Afghanistan for studies due to security reasons.
“I sincerely hope the country could achieve peace and national reconciliation so that Chinese students and investors could come to Afghanistan, which would definitely benefit both countries,” Xi said.
The Pashto Class of Communication University of China (CUC), from which Xi Meng has learned the language, enrolls only about a dozen students once in every four years.
Shan Dan, a lecturer in Pashto at CUC, stressed the importance of education and people-to-people contact. “Education is always the driving force behind the development of a nation. As a scholar in Pashto language in China, I would like to contribute to the interaction between the two countries,” Shan said.
Students and faculty members at the CUC have expressed great expectations of spending part of their academic life in Kabul to further improve their command of Pashto.
Jiang Zimin, the 20-year-old student in the CUC Pashto Class, told Xinhua that as one of the 13 students in the class, he was happy that President Ghani has realized the need to encourage the interest of Chinese youths to learn the Afghan language. “I am looking forward to exchange programs or job opportunities for Pashto-speaking Chinese in Afghanistan,” Jiang said.
Liu Jingbo, Jiang’s classmate, said that he hoped he and his classmates in the Pashto class could help bridge the language and cultural barrier between the two countries and contribute to a more harmonious relationship between the Chinese and Afghan people.
Two CUC Pashto class alumni, Wang Heng, a former Chinese diplomat, and Lin Jing, former correspondent in Xinhua’s Kabul Bureau, have both worked more than a year in Kabul.
Both Wang and Lin have expressed hope that under the stewardship of President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan will be able to overcome its security and economic problems and finally achieve peace and prosperity.